Who’s on Third?

Who’s on Third?
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

A civic panel shot down a bid to turn Third Avenue between 82nd and 92nd Streets into a pedestrian mall for six evenings this summer, saying the proposal was misguided because it didn’t take into account the problems with traffic, litter and noise it would create.

Nearly 200 people showed up at Community Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation committee meeting at St. Anselm’s Church on Wednesday — a startling number considering most committee meetings don’t attract more than a dozen people — and many said the plan being pushed by state Sen. Marty Golden and Councilman Vincent Gentile to close the strip to cars between 6 and 10 pm in late July and early August is going to create havoc.

“It’s gonna be crazy; it’s gonna be insane,” said Gerry Morris, who owns Chadwick’s Restaurant on Third Avenue between 88th and 89th streets. “I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than see this happen.”

Several residents worry about losing parking spaces within the plaza — which they think will increase double-parking on side streets.

As a result, CB10’s six-member panel voted unanimously to send the plan back to the drawing board until its sponsors can address the problems it foresees.

“The devil’s in the details, and there are no details,” said Kevin Peter Carroll, member of the traffic and transportation committee and Democratic district leader for the 60th assembly district.

But Golden and Gentile — as well as other speakers at the hearing — say the plan will empower pedestrians in an otherwise car-centered neighborhood and be a boon to a local economy that flags in the late summer.

“People are afraid of change. Move forward. Keep your cars at home,” yelled Susan Michalski at the plans detractors. “Shame on you people!”

And Golden said that, at the very least, the plan could help create a sense of community on the block.

“It’s something different; it will create a buzz,” he said after the meeting. “[Businesses] will start to expand and stay open late at night.”

And just because the plan was rejected, it doesn’t mean it’s dead.

“It’s up to the electeds to see if they can get the plan together by next week,” said CB10 member Bob Hudoch, who added the plan could be passed by the full board during its meeting on June 20.